All posts by Native Earth

Kenneth T. Williams: “Challenge Your Mythology”

Weesageechak 30 is excited to have award-winning Cree playwright and former Native Earth Playwright-in-Residence, Kenneth T. Williams for this year’s festival. Following his 2014 reading of In Care at W27,  Williams returns with his latest work-in-progress, The Whale Killer.

The Whale Killer is inspired by a 2001 shooting of an RCMP officer in Cape Dorset during Williams’ time as a reporter for APTN National News. “There were a lot of unanswered questions about the murder. However, [The Whale Killer] is not my version of the events. It was a starting point and now doesn’t resemble anything that happened in the real event.”

“Because first and foremost, Indigenous people are my audience…I need to hear their responses first, they are who ground my work.”

Working with Artistic Director of Theatre Network (Edmonton, Alberta), Bradley Moss as dramaturge, Williams believes Weesageechak is the next step for The Whale Killer‘s evolution.

“First and foremost, Indigenous people are my audience. There is no other opportunity out there that allows me to present a play in progress to Indigenous theatre professionals. I need to hear their responses first, they are who ground my work.”

Williams hopes the workshop preview will capture everyone’s anticipation for The Whale Killer‘s full production. He also hopes to continue provoking discussions around issues that are important to the Indigenous community while doing quality work of which we can all be proud.

You can follow Williams on Twitter @feralplaywright for tweets about drama, Indigenous peoples and climate change. Make sure to catch The Whale Killer on Friday, November 17th!

More from Kenneth T. Williams

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Right now, a lot of my work comes from my years as a journalist. There were a lot of stories that I couldn’t tell, or I couldn’t tell as completely as I could, so now I re-examine them through the lens of a playwright.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
All plays can be shorter.

Do you have any advice for Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Challenge your own mythology.

Who is your role model? How do they inspire you?
My great-grandparents, John and Ethel Blind. They were hard working, tough and very loving people. They are my roots. They are my way forward.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
All Indigenous art is political. The history of this country trying to erase us means that all art and Indigenous expression is an act of resistance.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
Art created by Indigenous peoples is Indigenous art.

What is coming up next for you?
Café Daughter will be presented in Victoria in the spring. I was just hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Drama at the University of Alberta, so that’s keeping me extremely busy.

See Kenneth T. William’s Whale Killer on
Friday, November 17th @ 7:30pm

Henrietta Baird: “Without Our Art, We have nothing”

We’re thrilled to host Australia’s Moogahlin Performing Arts for a second year at Weesageechak Begins to Dance, this year featuring Kuku Yalanji/Yidinji playwright Henrietta Baird‘s work The Weekend. 

“Being an Aboriginal woman from a different country, I think [Weesageechak] is a great opportunity to present my script. It’s a festival where all Indigenous artists can be inspired and share our culture and our stories. A place to learn to be strong in our views as artists and what we believe in.”

The Weekend shares an intimate story of Baird and her experiences as a young mother trekking through a world of public housing, drug dealing, and threats of losing her children.

“I want the audience to walk away with a strong emotional effect, to know where you come from and what you believe in.”

“I want the audience to walk away with a strong emotional effect, to know where you come from and what you believe in.” Through this piece, Baird reminds us that whatever life throws at you, however complicated it may be, just hang in there. “Your situation will change, so keep going and never give up. You can be the inspiration.”

Taking inspiration from her mother, grandmothers, aunties and other strong women, powerful resilient women are main characters to Baird’s stories. “Telling me stories, showing my places, and teaching me about my culture, without these women, I probably wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Make sure to catch The Weekend on Thursday, November 16th!

More from Henrietta Baird

What piece are you looking forward to seeing at W30?
I’m not sure at the moment but I want to see as much possible.

Where do you find your inspiration for your creative work?
Myself I believe that I have a certain way of telling stories and this is just the start so I would love to be a part of this festival so that I can be inspired from other Indigenous artists and storytellers.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Keep writing.

Do you have any advice for Indigenous creators just coming onto the scene?
Yes, keep following your dreams. Never give up. Try to be a part of many performances. See as many shows as possible. Everyone is an inspiration to be sponge. Look at what you can bring to the table as you are also the inspiration for others.

What are your thoughts on addressing political topics through Indigenous art?
Political topics being addressed through Indigenous art is a great way to get people to understand our views.

What does Indigenous art mean to you?
A way to connect to others and tell show them who we are and tell our stories. Without our Art, we have nothing. If we lose our Art – stories, songs, art works, dances, we lost who we are. That’s why it’s important to keep it going.

What is coming up next for you?
I will be performing with a group in Cairns in December. I will be working with kids and choreographing a work looking at using fire and hopefully collaborating with other Indigenous artists from Canada.

See Henrietta Baird’s The Weekend on
Friday, November 16th @ 7:30pm


October 4-8, 2017
Tickets $13-18
Aki Studio &
Ada Slaight Hall


Inclusive – discursive – daring – unapologetic – Aluna Theatre invites you to CAMINOS 2017, a festival of new works-in-progress from local Pan-American, Indigenous, and Latinx artists who are pushing the boundaries of theatre, dance, performance art, music, visual arts, installation, and film.

The CAMINOS 2017 line-up includes works by Leslie Baker with Emma Tibaldo and Joseph Shragge (Montreal); Augusto Bitter; Martha Chaves; Peter Chin and Jeremy Mimnagh; Monica Garrido; Beatriz Pizano; Victoria Mata; Aemilius Milo and lwrds duniam; Jivesh Parasram; Lido Pimienta and Gein Wong; Charles C. Smith; Toronto Laboratory Theatre; Nawi Moreno-Valverde and Melissa Anne Fearon; Irma Villafuerte; and Gabriela Guerra Woo (Mexico City).

Buy Tickets

For all the details, including festival line-up,
visit the CAMINOS website.

4 a 8 de octobre, 2017
Entrada $13-18
Aki Studio &
Ada Slaight Hall


Inclusivo- discursivo- atrevido- ¡incorregible! Aluna Theatre te invita a CAMINOS 2017, un festival de nuevos trabajos en curso de artistas panamericanos locales, transindígenas, y latinx, quienes desafían los límites del teatro, danza, performance, música, artes visuales y cine.

La programación de CAMINOS 2017 incluye piezas creadas por Leslie Baker con Emma Tibaldo y Joseph Shragge (Montreal); Augusto Bitter; Martha Chaves; Peter Chin y Jeremy Mimnagh; Monica Garrido; Beatriz Pizano; Ximena Huizi; Victoria Mata; Aemilius Milo y Lourdes Duniam; Jivesh Parasram; Lido Pimienta y Gein Wong; Charles C. Smith; Toronto Laboratory Theatre; Nawi Moreno-Valverde y Melissa Anne Fearon; Irma Villafuerte; y Gabriela Guerra Woo (Ciudad de México).

Compre Billetes

Founded in 2001 as a response to the misrepresentation and under-representation of cultural diversity on our stages, Aluna Theatre aimed to form a new and distinct language of theatrical presentation. For over a decade, Aluna Theatre has been attempting to shift the scales of imbalance by bringing social justice, equality and human rights to the forefront of all productions.

Aluna Theatre fue fundada en el 2001 con el objetivo de desarrollar un lenguaje teatral original y como respuesta a la poca y mala representación de artistas de diversas culturas en la escena canadiense, especialmente artistas inmigrantes de América Latina. Por más de una década, Aluna Theatre ha intentado cambiar las pesas de la balanza abordando los temas de justicia social, igualdad y derechos humanos en todas sus producciones.

Read More / Más de Aluna Theatre

HUFF 2017

A Native Earth Performing Arts Production

by Cliff Cardinal

Oct 16-28 Soulpepper Theatre

Two-time winner and four-time nominee for the Dora Mavor Moore Award, Native Earth’s production of Cliff Cardinal’s Huff is back in Toronto this October!

Huff premiered at Aki Studio as part of Native Earth’s 2015 season. In 2016, Huff had an enormously successful nine-city national tour, followed by an international tour in 2017 to Australia and England, with an additional stop in Manitoba.

Returning to the city this fall, Native Earth’s production of Huff will be shown at Soulpepper Theatre from Oct 16 to 28 in partnership with former Artistic Director Ryan Cunningham’s Cunning Concepts & Creation. For more details of the upcoming show.

Director & Dramaturge Karin Randoja
Playwright & Performer Cliff Cardinal
Set & Costume Designer Jackie Chau
Lighting Designer Michelle Ramsay
Sound Designer Alex Williams
Stage Manager Jennifer Stobart
Production Manager Pip Bradford

Click here for the full production history.

“Huff, is arresting, confronting, and oddly comedic”
– The AU Review

New Artistic Director Ryan Cunningham

Native Earth Performing Arts is pleased to announce our new Artistic Director Ryan Cunningham, whose fresh leadership and zealous vision will move NEPA into yet another exciting era of creating strong Indigenous work for our community and beyond.

“We were impressed and excited about many of Ryan’s ideas for Native Earth, which included multidisciplinary connections with the arts community and the national Indigenous community,” says Jed DeCory, President of NEPA’s Board of Directors. “We feel that with his energy and vision we will be able to continue on a path to a positive future.”

Ryan is a proud Métis (Cree/Scottish) from Edmonton, Alberta and has worked as a professional actor across Canada. He is the co-founder and Artistic Manager of Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts and the co-curator/producer of The RUBABOO Arts Festival, which kicks off on January 30th in Edmonton. He is co-founder of The Agkowe Collective which continues to bring the award winning play to communities across Canada and beyond. Ryan is a board member of two prominent national organizations: IPAA (Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance) and the CanDANCE Network.

Ryan recently performed in Yukonstyle at the Berkeley Street Theatre (Canadian Stage). As an actor he has performed in notable productions such as King Lear and The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (National Arts Centre), Urinetown: The Musical and Vimy (Firehall Arts Centre) and Next Year’s Man of Steel (Shadow Theatre). Ryan can be seen right now on APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) in the third season of the award winning series Blackstone, as well as Mixed Blessings, Earth: Final Conflict and Blue Murder.

Ryan’s involvement with Native Earth began as an actor in the fall of 2003 during the 16th Weesageechak Festival. He has been a featured actor in NEPA mainstage productions: Annie Mae’s Movement, Death of a Chief and Dreary & Izzy. Ryan was a Festival Associate at Native Earth supporting the 23rd annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance.

Native Earth welcomes Ryan to its community and family. We look forward to sharing his artistic vision in the months to come as he steps into our office as of January 6, 2014.


 Media Reference: Jessica Carmichael Phone: (416) 531.1402 E-mail:



Native Earth Performing Arts is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating and producing Native performance works. Founded in 1982, Native Earth Performing Arts is Canada’s oldest professional Native theatre company. Native Earth has participated in the development of a community of artists, and in the creation of several Aboriginal classics including Almighty Voice and His Wife by Daniel David Moses, The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move To Kapuskasing by Tomson Highway, Someday by Drew Hayden Taylor and Moonlodge by Margo Kane. In 1989, Native Earth instituted an annual development festival of new work called Weesageechak Begins to Dance. Since then, the Weesageechak Festival has helped develop over 100 new dance and theatre works by emerging and established artists, including Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots by Monique Mojica,  Annie Mae’s Movement by Yvette Nolan, Tales of an Urban Indian by Darrell Dennis and Gordon Winter by Kenneth T. Williams.

The millennium has brought about a great deal of change at NEPA, and has also brought us around, full circle, reconnecting us to our beginnings. In 2004-2005 Yvette Nolan helmed the largest Native Earth production in years, The Unnatural and Accidental Women by Marie Clements featuring a cast of thirteen. As ever, NEPA set a new standard, and the show was selected by NOW Magazine as one of the Top Ten theatre productions of 2004.  Our relationship with Indigenous peoples abroad has expanded and deepened, with the epic Honouring Theatre Tour of Turtle Island, Aotearoa and Australia. We braved Death of a Chief, a landmark adaptation of Julius Caesar (co-production with the NAC) and a full-scale opera (Giiwedin, a co-pro with An Indie(N) Rights Reserve) which played with both legally recognized official languages as well as Anishinabemowin. The second decade in the new millenium connects NEPA to its roots with the ongoing demand for the now canonical work, Almighty Voice and His Wife.

Native Earth’s training initiatives feature the creation programs Animikiig and Thundering Voices, diverse practical apprenticeships and on-the-job skills acquisition on professional level projects, including full-scale productions.

Our thirty-first anniversary season will focus thematically on “Community” as we continue to plant roots in our new NEPA home, with a playing space and administrative headquarters at the Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre.


Weesageechak 26

Weesageechak Begins To Dance – 26
November 21-23, 2013
Join us as Weesageechak begins to dance for the 26th time. This year’s festival places a special emphasis on local Indigenous artists and their works in development!

Let’s Play.

Day One: Thursday, November 21 @ 8pm

Rutas Festival Preview *A Sneak Peak of our partnership with Aluna Theatre’s Rutas Panamericanas Festival featuring excerpts of:

What I learned from a decade of fear created & directed by Trevor Schwellnus in association with Aluna Theatre
La Maleta (The Suitcase) created by Bea Pizano
In Spirit created by Tara Beagan and the original creative team

Day Two: Friday, November 22 @ 8pm
Emerging and Veteran Female Voices *Playwright in residence PJ Prudat and Gemini Award winning artist Jani Lauzon bring to life the Aki Studio with text and music 

I Call Myself Princess: The Story of Tsianina Redfeather created by Jani Lauzon
Postcards created by PJ Prudat

Day Three: Saturday, November 23 @ 8pm
Animikiig and Thundering Voices Night *A showcase of new and exciting Indigenous voices featuring our partnership with the 3rd year talents from the Centre of Indigenous Theatre

Deadbeats created by Garret C. Smith
Aluasa’sit created by Cathy Elliot
Good Grief created by Lorrie Gallant and L.M. VanEvery
The Circle: Visions of a Hoop Dancer created by Tjay Henhawk
The Longest Way Around created by Heather Marie Annis

The festival closes with an Indigenous Networking After-Party sponsored by
the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance

Let’s Dance.

Each night is $15


I Call Myself Princess: The Story of Tsianina Redfeather

I Call Myself Princess: The Story of Tsianina Redfeather
by Jani Lauzon with direction & dramaturgy by Ruth Madoc-Jones

“It has been a breathtaking ride researching this work. I call it an opera within a play. And while things have changed there are so many things that have not. Especially our relationship to identity and popular culture, the Opera based on Tsianina’s life being the pop culture of the time. This wouldn’t be happening without the generosity of many.” Jani Lauzon

Day 2: Thursday, November 21st @ 8pm 
Aki Studio Theatre – 585 Dundas St. East

Back to Weesageechak 26

The Circle: Visions of a Hoop Dancer

by Tjay Henhawk with direction & dramaturgy by Cole Alvis

A coming of age story about a young boy who must overcome many obstacles and negative influences. As he struggles through his journey will he find the true meaning of his visions?

Featured in the Animikiig / Thundering Voices night of the festival
Saturday, Nov. 23rd @ 8pm* 
Aki Studio Theatre

*Followed by an Indigenous Networking After-Party sponsored by
the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance

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By NEPA playwright-in-rez PJ Prudat with direction/dramaturgy by Nigel Shawn Williams

A young Métis man, in search of his stolen roots, sets out on an enlightening journey to unearth his lost identity and find his blood family.

Day 2: Thursday, November 21st @ 8pm 
Aki Studio Theatre – 585 Dundas Street East

Back to Weesageechak 26